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GOOD TIME

Directors / Benny and Josh Safdie (HEAVEN KNOWS WHAT)
Stars/ Robert Pattinson, Benny Safdie, Necro, Taliah Webster, Jennifer Jason Leigh and Barkhad Abdi

At the conclusion of its final credits during a screening at this year’s Cannes Film Festival, GOOD TIME was the recipient of a six minute standing ovation where it was also selected to compete for the prestigious Palme d’Or.

In New York, two brothers, Connie and Nick Nikas, attempt to rob a bank that does not go according to plan and results in Nick (co-director and co-editor Benny Safdie) being taken to a Riker’s Island holding cell. Desperate to free his mentally challenged brother, Connie (Robert Pattinson) turns to extreme measures, including his older girlfriend Corey (Jennifer Jason Leigh) and a bored teenage girl, Crystal (Taliah Webster), to obtain the bail bond required for his brother’s release.

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An outstanding score, a career-best performance from Robert Pattinson and extremely well thought-out writing ensure that GOOD TIME is more than worth your dime.

An independent American crime drama, GOOD TIME admirably allocates ample time to its lesser details and characters, enriching them on its way to becoming a cut above its mainstream counterparts. Aside from the Nikas brothers, all other characters are only briefly seen. However, with all small part players being written with characterisation that’s as colourful as the film’s neon design, they won’t be only briefly remembered. We see many movies belonging to this genre that either omit, skip or conveniently contrive connecting points to pull off their heist and reach the finish line. Not GOOD TIME. This film earns further positive recognition in just that area. A heist scene that is as riddled with tension as any other you’ll see, a timely twist and a more than satisfying conclusion are all ideal examples to give of the astute writing and execution of this immersive film.  Audiences are constantly left in the dark as to what the next turn in this tale could be and where this will lead to.

GOOD TIME is necessary to see in cinemas, purely to gain the full experience of the award-winning electronic score by Daniel Lopatin, best known under the recording alias Oneohtrix Point Never. It truly is a stand-out.

3 ½ stars

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Viewer Discretion/ MA15+ (Strong violence, coarse language, drug use and sex scene)

Trailer / GOOD TIME

Moviedoc thanks Potential Films for the link to watch and review this film.

Review by Moviedoc / “LIKE” on Facebook – Moviedoc

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FINAL PORTRAIT

Writer & Director / Stanley Tucci (BIG NIGHT, THE IMPOSTORS)
Stars/ Geoffrey Rush, Armie Hammer, Sylvie Testud, Clémence Poésy and Tony Shalhoub

FINAL PORTRAIT is an enlightening retelling of Swiss painter and sculptor Alberto Giacometti’s (Geoffrey Rush) numerous attempts to complete his portrait of young American writer and art admirer James Lord (Armie Hammer). It is 1964 in Paris when Alberto makes the flattering offer to draw his friend James, who is spending a few days traveling the French capital. Told from James’s perspective, FINAL PORTRAIT follows the trials and tribulations of both men as the neurotic artist battles both artistic and personal problems in this biographical comedic drama.

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From even his childhood years during the early 1900’s, Alberto Giacometti showed a keen interest in art. The life events of this post-impressionist artist that occurred from then to the timeline depicted here have surprisingly never been told in a feature length picture. However, they certainly deserve to be (and hopefully will be) someday.

Better known for his on-screen work, writer/director Stanley Tucci focuses on several days in the latter part of Giacometti’s life, in this moderate yet finely made film. Content with regularly and casually observing rather deeply exploring any of its themes and characterisations, FINAL PORTRAIT is an undeniably lightweight film that has tendencies to sometimes meander and linger in repetitiveness. Nevertheless, those who fancy this edited snapshot will take a liking to Tucci’s piece of work courtesy of the director’s firm handling of a basic story and peculiar characters, the reasonable pace over a short duration that has been applied and a terrific performance from Geoffrey Rush (who knew he could speak French!?). These aspects of the film keep this UK production a serviceable one.

3 stars 

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Viewer Discretion/ M (Mature themes, coarse language and nudity)

Trailer / FINAL PORTRAIT

Moviedoc thanks Transmission Films for the screening invite to this film.

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GOD’S OWN COUNTRY

Writer & Director / Francis Lee (Feature film debut)
Stars/ Josh O’Connor, Alec Secareanu, Gemma Jones and Ian Hart

Writer and director Francis Lee’s first-ever feature-length film, GOD’S OWN COUNTRY, tells of a personal story that is partly based on his own life.

On a remote Yorkshire farm, Johnny (Josh O’Connor – CINDERELLA, FLORENCE FOSTER JENKINS), is compelled to live and work at the family estate with his father, Martin (Ian Hart) and his Grandmother, Deidre (Gemma Jones – the BRIDGET JONES trilogy) after a stroke leaves Martin with partial paralysis. Feeling extreme frustration by being stuck at a landscape and surrounded by local folk that don’t meet his needs, Johnny encounters an opportunity to change his ways when a handsome migrant worker from Romania named Gheorghe (Alec Secareanu) is employed to help Johnny manage the farming demands.


Winner of seven awards including best feature at the Berlin, Edinburgh and San Francisco Film Festivals, GOD’S OWN COUNTRY boasts authentic imagery and performances, yet is unfortunately a dull film to watch. 

A mistaken rather than a poorer film, Francis Lee has produced GOD’S OWN COUNTRY with the belief that the stark landscape, its central characters silent tension and their plight will communicate more strongly than words. Despite the best efforts of his two lead actor’s very good performances, Lee’s writing is far too one-dimensional and scarce of dialogue to maintain long-term investment in his picture. This void is especially defined in earlier characterisation work of Johnny as well as the notable omission of much-needed sub-plotting to support the central plot. Another acknowledgement to its authenticity involves the filming of farming animals, all of which are indeed real and were mostly shot at the farm of Francis Lee’s father. Though commendable of his commitment as director, the minutes of screen time these several scenes occupy are more befitting for a documentary on the subject. It is here, as well as the all too foreseeable plot trajectory that also induce an overwhelming feeling of tedium upon this promising UK production.

2 stars

Viewer Discretion/ MA15+ (Strong sex scenes and nudity)

Trailer / GOD’S OWN COUNTRY

Moviedoc thanks Rialto Distribution and Annette Smith for the screener link provided to this film.

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LADY MACBETH

Director / William Oldroyd (Feature film debut)
Stars/ Florence Pugh, Paul Hilton, Cosmo Jarvis, Naomi Ackie and Christopher Fairbank

Make no mistake, LADY MACBETH bears no resemblance to any work associated to William Shakespeare. Based on the 1865 Russian novella, Lady Macbeth of the Mtsensk District by Nikolai Leskov, the only reference from this film that could be made to the namesake character created by Shakespeare is of a purely symbolic nature.

Set in rural England in 1865, the film opens as 17 year old Katherine (Florence Pugh) is forced into marriage with the older Alexander (Paul Hilton). Katherine, who loves the outdoors, doesn’t so easily accept her husband’s wishes to be his subordinate, after he orders her to remain locked indoors at all times. When Alexander leaves his estate for several weeks to attend to a business emergency, the rebellious and free-spirited Katherine begins a dangerous affair with a young man working at the estate, Sebastian (Cosmo Jarvis).

Courtesy of its remarkable and transformative lead female character, LADY MACBETH turns the period drama genre on its head in near flawless fashion.

Lady Katherine isn’t just the stand-out character in this sublime film, it is one of the most conceivably written, daring and exciting transitions of any character we’ve seen in recent years. Immediately upon moving into her new residence with her husband, Katherine recognises the misogynist she has married and the submissive life that she’s contractually obliged to fulfil. Rather than succumbing to her dreadful fate, Katherine fights back. Almost every command ordered at her is answered in return with wilful disobedience. Any expectations that existed prior to her arrival are now met with contemptuous disregard and are dead and buried. With each bout of resistance she sends forth, Katherine is brimming in confidence. Anyone who dares to throw a conventional line her way will become her bait! As delicious as this is to witness, audiences are very much aware that Katherine’s recklessness is going to have its consequences.

This is an outstanding feature-film directional debut from William Oldroyd, who has collected seven of the eleven award wins LADY MACBETH has so far received. He unearths a scintillating performance from his star, Florence Pugh (who has won the remaining four awards), in what truly is a breakout performance in every sense of the word. It is a display of acting that will not be forgotten in a film that produces fierce, fearless and electrifying drama. Make no mistake, LADY MACBETH is an unmissable film.

4 ½ stars



Viewer Discretion/ MA15+ (strong sex scenes and coarse language)

Trailer / LADY MACBETH

Moviedoc thanks Sharmill Films for the invite to the screening of this film..

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BERLIN SYNDROME

Director / Cate Shortland (LORE, SOMERSAULT)
Stars/ Teresa Palmer and Max Riemelt

The prestigious Australian film BERLIN SYNDROME casts an atmosphere of constant and escalating trepidation that is riveting to experience. Melbourne-born author Melanie Joosten, who was named as one of the Sydney Morning Herald’s Best Young Novelists in 2012, visited Berlin herself as she backpacked through Europe at 22 years of age. This film is based on her debut novel that won the Kathleen Mitchell Award for Young Writers.

Teresa Palmer stars as Clare, a young Australian photographer who spends her first night of a backpacking expedition in the German capital. The intrepid and curious Clare, who is traveling alone, soon meets a handsome and charming local, Andi (Max Riemelt). He invites Clare back to his apartment and the two of them engage in a passionate night of romance. Shortly after Andi leaves for work, Clare discovers that she has been locked inside his apartment. And he has no intention of letting her go.


This is what many Australian films strive to be, but often fall short in their attempts. Steadily paced, yet never too drawn-out, BERLIN SYNDROME is a transfixing film that has the authenticity and compelling storytelling to match its powerful sensory presence.

Adapted for the screen by writer Shaun Grant (writer of JASPER JONES), BERLIN SYNDROME becomes unsettling yet utterly intriguing as the two lead characters engage in a battle of psychological warfare and welfare. A battle in which Andi may have a propensity for violence. He is a puzzling and complex character. A school teacher by day, Andi has a rather gentle facade and seems to possess a genuine kind of love for the imprisoned foreigner. As the script fascinatingly delves deeper into his personal life, it doesn’t neglect a helpless Clare who is becoming more aware that the longer she remains in his possession, the sooner an inevitable fate awaits.

Acclaimed filmmaker Cate Shortland, who was nominated for the dramatic world cinema Grand Jury Prize Award at the 2017 Sundance Film Festival, is guaranteed to win several awards at home and around the world at upcoming festivals for this excellent film. Shot on location in Berlin before production moved to Melbourne, BERLIN SYNDROME is a stunningly photographed film that features a stand-out and spine-chilling score. Max Riemelt and HACKSAW RIDGE star Teresa Palmer give measured and magnificent performances in a film that Palmer has described her participation in as one of the most transformational experiences of her life as well as the most liberating film experience of her career. See it, and you’ll understand exactly why.

4 stars

Viewer Discretion/ MA15+ (strong themes, violence and sex scenes. Also contains nudity and some language.)

Trailer / BERLIN SYNDROME

Moviedoc thanks Entertainment One and The Backlot Studios for the invite to this film screening.

Review by Moviedoc / “LIKE” on Facebook – Moviedoc

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PERSONAL SHOPPER

Writer & Director / Olivier Assayas (CLOUDS OF SILS MARIA, SUMMER HOURS)
Stars / Kristen Stewart, Lars Eidinger and Nora von Waldstätten

To most critics, the emergence of Kristen Stewart (THE TWILIGHT SAGA) as a star in far less mainstream movies has been somewhat of a revelation. Take Olivier Assayas’s previous film CLOUDS OF SILS MARIA as a prime example which co-starred Stewart, who won a number of worldwide film festival awards. Now fulfilling the lead role in PERSONAL SHOPPER, it certainly appears as though K-Stew’s emotionally reserved style has responded to a calling in both of Assayas’s films, which are quite restrained in their storytelling approach.

This Cannes Film Festival Palme d’Or nominee which won Olivier Assayas the Best Director award follows Maureen Cartwright (Stewart), an American who is temporarily yet indefinitely living in Paris. A psychological drama/thriller that is part ghost story, PERSONAL SHOPPER is set in the fashion industry as Maureen relies on the income of a job she doesn’t fancy in order to pursue a personal matter that won’t disappear.

Until now, Kristen Stewart has been completely unconvincing and totally out of place in every film of hers I’ve seen since her TWILIGHT years. Of complete opposite opinion to most others, Stewart actually suited the character of Bella Swan and has truly struggled to break away from the habitual acting techniques (the shake of the head, that blinking, the stuttering) picked up playing that character. This companion piece to CLOUDS OF SILS MARIA does result in Stewart being as far removed from that style as she’s been, in a brave role that results in her best and most convincing work to date.

The film itself, which stars four of the same actors from its companion piece, drew mixed audience reactions from passionate critics after its screening at Cannes. It is easy to understand why. PERSONAL SHOPPER indeed does have its spellbinding moments and sporadically registers deep intrigue. However, a plot which consists of separate stories that each have their turn to become the focal point as they gradually reveal the layers underneath, lack significance and are too delayed in their development. A section in the middle of the picture that features the exchanging of mildly threatening text messages from an unknown source is the epitome of just that. Then, when a couple of plot holes surface, PERSONAL SHOPPER loses its ability to sustain genuine regard. As was the case in CLOUDS OF SILS MARIA, Olivier Assayas lets a promising premise slowly evaporate. The end result is another underwhelming movie.

2 ½ stars


Viewer Discretion/ MA15+ (Strong scene of blood detail. Also contains language, sexuality and nudity.)

Trailer / PERSONAL SHOPPER

Moviedoc thanks Rialto Distribution, Annette Smith and The Backlot Studios for the invite to this film screening.

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LA DANSEUSE (THE DANCER)

Director / Stéphanie Di Giusto (Feature Film Debut)
Stars / Soko, Gaspard Ulliel, Mélanie Thierry and Lily-Rose Depp

A pioneer of performance arts who improvised her own dance technique. The golden girl of the iconic Folies Bergère during the height of its popularity. The revolutionary dancer who gained the respect and friendship of several French artists.

These are some important glimpses of the life and professional career of American-born dancer, Loïe Fuller (Soko) that are covered in the English & French spoken drama, LA DANSEUSE (THE DANCER).

Based on the novel “Loïe Fuller, Danseuse de la Belle Epoque” by Giovanni Lister, THE DANCER chronicles Loïe’s path to discovering and developing her true calling, and the relationships that had a significant impact throughout her life at the turn of the 20th Century.

One purely breathtaking performance and a most captivating collection of the struggles and the strides in Loïe’s steps to stardom compensate for what is an overall incomplete and uneven biographical film that is only sporadically spellbinding. 
 
LA DANSEUSE picks up Loïe’s journey from the not so ripe age of 25, where she is residing in America. Perhaps this is also the case in Giovanni Lister’s book as it would explain why such interesting facts to have occurred in Loïe’s life prior to this age, and a great deal more until her death in 1928, are swept aside here. Should you choose to watch this, a read-up on Loïe’s life is highly recommended after the film. Thankfully and importantly though, witnessing the evolution of Loïe’s incredible talent, the suffering she willingly succumbs to it and the ever-growing vision & innovation she gallantly possesses are afforded the unrestrained attention that they deserve.
 

Some relationships to Loïe, as depicted here, matter more than others. A particularly significant one is somewhat truncated in its development. A shame, for it’s the best work to date from Johnny Depp & Vanessa Paradis’s real-life daughter, Lily-Rose Depp. And a seemingly (or surely) fabricated relationship in Loïe’s life, a character played by Gaspard Ulliel, is a sheer waste of space. Ironing out any character creases though is the star-making, spectacular lead performance from Soko, worth the price of admission alone for admirers of high quality acting.

3 stars

 

Viewer Discretion/ M (mature themes, sex and nudity)

Trailer / LA DANSEUSE (THE DANCER)

Tickets & Information for the French Film Festival/ FRENCH FILM FESTIVAL

Moviedoc thanks Annette Smith and Palace Cinema Como for the invite to this event and film screening.

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